The Hunting Party
By: Lucy Foley
Opening Line: “I see a man coming through the falling snow. From a distance, through the curtain of white, he looks hardly human, like a shadow figure.”
Overall: A group of old college friends, now thirtysomethings, get together once a year to welcome in the New Year together. This year’s trip is to a remote, upscale, hunting lodge estate in the harsh Scottish Highlands. They arrive there on December 30th, and by New Year’s Day, one of them is dead. Even as the group travels together up to the lodge by train, resentments both old and new are starting to show. When they get to the beautiful but isolated lodge, they start to let loose and party. They have lavish, expensive dinners together, and everyone starts falling into their old patterns with eachother. They drink too much fancy champagne and booze … to celebrate, but also to try and forget their stresses, failures and secrets. A huge blizzard arrives and snows them in. This seems to be just a minor inconvenience, as the estate is stocked with plenty of food and supplies. But, snowed-in together, tensions grow, and on New Year’s Eve, someone snaps. One of them is murdered, and one of them is probably the murder. This has them all shocked and wondering which of them did it, and why one of them would kill one of their best friends.
Ovations: The thing I love most about this mystery/thriller book is that the way the author writes the plot. Not only do you not know who the killer is, but you also don’t even know who gets killed. You are wondering both of these things the entire time you are reading this book! That is a very compelling twist on the normal murder mystery book. I also love a “closed room mystery”. (That means that there is a group of people isolated together somehow, and you know and they know that one of them is the killer. Agatha Christie always did those so exceptionally well.) Also, I like how each chapter of the book is written about the events happening from a different person’s point of view. It is interesting to read what each character thinks is going on. I feel it really pulls you into the story more when you are reading how each character is feeling and what their particular point of view is.
Oh Well: One thing I did not like about the book is that it jumps around in time a lot. That makes things quite hard to follow at times. The story is not written as one continuous timeline. The other thing I did not like was that the author spends way too much time describing every tiny detail of the place they are in and the land they are on. Too much time is spent on atmosphere descriptions and not enough time is spent on each character. I feel that some of the characters have just surface descriptions about them. Since there are not too many characters in the book, I think that much more time should have been spent diving deeper into describing each character and their life story to better understand them as complete people. Last but not least, there was a side plot about a current event in the news that did not need to be in the story at all.
Opinion: I do love murder mystery thrillers. This was a chilling, errie setting for this story but I feel like the book could have been better. In addition to the issues I mentioned above, the story got slow at times and there were some improbable red herrings added to the story that did not need to be included. It was suspenseful, but the ending of the book felt rushed and incomplete to me. Rating 8 out of 10